Don’t be hoodwinked by the Government’s attempt to lessen the severity of the increased crime rate when it blames gangs, says Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. Speaking at a meeting on Monday night at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, to promote himself as the leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) for the party’s upcoming internal election, Rowley said if changes were not made at the highest level, the country would not be able to evade the difficulties which lay ahead.
He said the Government and its agencies were trying to convince citizens everything was fine, yet up to the sixth day of 2014, there had already been 16 murders. “What you expect them to say?” he asked rhetorically. “I can’t recall any time in this country a bloodbath taking place like this week,” he added. He conceded the PNM lost the general election in 2010 “badly,” attributing it to spiralling crime. “The main issue was the PNM’s failure to reduce the violent crime,” he said.
However, Rowley commented on the crime rate and the ineffectual measures by the present Government, saying the only way to address the issue was to change the Government. He said as murders piled up for 2014, there was silence from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and an attempt to blame gangs for the spike in killings. “We are having a disaggregation of murders. Today we are being told ‘citizens, don’t worry, it is gang people killing one another. That is not real murder.’”
He said it was an attempt to change the number of murders into one that would be more acceptable if the public considered it gang warfare. “So we are now disaggregating the problem into acceptable parts and unacceptable parts. We call that failure,” he added. He told the crowd they were “virtually voting to save your life.” Rowley addressed the state of social services and PNM’s policy when it was in government. “There will be radical reform of the social support services,” he said, which pleased the audience, who applauded in support.
He said his government intended to ensure the resources meant for social support reached the right people. “It will eliminate waste and corruption,” he added. Rowley also commented on the oil spill in southwestern Trinidad, describing it as an ecological crisis. He dismissed Petrotrin’s $8 million estimate for damage because the company had not really started to check the cost as yet.
“People’s lives are being destroyed... and they are telling lies... every day is a different lie that we are supposed to accept.” Rowley said the change for the country had to come from the top.